[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 13:05 GMT
Boy makes amazing crash recovery
Chris Stewart in his racing mini (courtesy of John Stewart)
Chris Stewart had to have an operation to re-attach his skull
A boy whose head was effectively severed from his neck in a racing car crash "which should have killed him" has made a miraculous recovery.

Chris Stewart, 12, suffered an internal decapitation, separating his skull and neck, when he hit a barrier at a track near Alton, Hampshire on 24 September.

His father told BBC News doctors had given Chris a 10% chance of survival.

But only two months later he was moved to a rehabilitation unit and is now planning to spend Christmas at home.

The doctors had never seen this kind of injury because, they said, when it happens, people die instantly
John Stewart

John Stewart, a 42-year-old carpenter from Fareham, said both he and his wife Debbie, 40, were watching the race when the 40mph (64km/h) crash happened at Tongham Motor Club.

A team from St John Ambulance and fire crews worked for 90 minutes to free the boy, who was 11 at the time, from the wreckage of his Mini.

Mr Stewart said he did not realised how serious his son's injuries were until the paramedics put him in the ambulance and took him to Southampton General Hospital with a police escort.

Chris Stewart in intensive care in hospital (courtesy of John Stewart)
Chris Stewart spent 19 days in intensive care

"They said he had broken his neck. [The impact of the crash] had actually taken the skull off his neck," he said.

Chris' tongue was also detached at the root, which has made speaking and eating difficult for him.

Mr Stewart said: "The doctors had never seen this kind of injury because, they said, when it happens, people die instantly.

"Apparently, only six people are known to have ever survived this and my son is the only one to have recovered [this well]."

Head re-attached

Chris underwent a six hour operation, known as a occipital-cervical fusion, which re-attached his head to his top vertebrae with metal plates and bone-grafts.

He has since made a miraculous recovery and can now swim, walk and exercise again.

"They told us it would be a year before he could walk but he was already walking after three weeks. The doctor was in tears when he saw him."

Mr Stewart said Chris is already spending his weekends at home and will be coming home for three weeks over Christmas.

But, he said, although Chris is expected to make a near to full recovery he would not be returning to the car racing track anytime soon.

Chris Stewart talks about his recovery

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific